Postgraduate Loans in Scotland

If you live in Scotland and are looking to study beyond undergraduate level, read on for the complete guide to the country's postgraduate funding.

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How much can you get in 2019Are you eligible for postgraduate funding?Is your course eligible? • EU or international studentsGetting postgraduate funding in ScotlandLoan repaymentsNext steps 

Panorama Of Edinburgh

Postgraduate funding: how much can you get in 2019?

Students in Scotland will be entitled to a maximum postgraduate loan of £10,000, to cover the whole of their course. This can be for postgraduate or master's study, so long as it is not below SCQF level 11. Unlike the rest of the UK, your course must be in Scotland, unless it's not available from a Scottish university.

The loan is formed of two parts:

  • Tuition fees support of up to £5,500. If your fees are lower than this, your university will receive the appropriate amount. If your fees are above £5,500, you'll need to make up the difference yourself.
  • Living cost support of up to £4,500, but only if you are a full-time student. You can borrow less than £4,500 if you feel you don’t need the full amount. Students on part-time courses are not eligible for the living costs loan, neither are students from the EU.

Postgraduate loans in Scotland are non-means-tested, meaning that you will be able to apply for the full amount, regardless of your financial income. You can also apply for other funding, such as from charitable trusts, or claim Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) if applicable. If you are eligible for DSA and wish to take out a postgraduate tuition fee loan, you should apply for the loan before submitting your application for DSA. Childcare funds may be available from your university if you are studying full-time, but as funding is limited, not all eligible students will receive help.

If you already have an undergraduate loan that is eligible to be repaid, repayments will only be taken if you are earning above the income threshold. Your loan does not count as income for loan repayments.

It's worth bearing in mind that postgraduate tuition fees vary widely, with some degrees costing far more than the amount of loan you will receive. If your tuition fees cost more than £5,500, you could in theory use some of your living costs loan to make up the difference. This money is yours to use as you see fit – but it’s important to make sure that you always have enough money to live on. See the link at the foot of this page to our annual survey of university tuition fees to find out more.

Are you eligible for postgraduate funding?

You must meet all the following criteria to be eligible for a postgraduate loan in Scotland:

  • Age: For the living cost loan, you must be under 60 years old on the first day of the first academic year of your course. If you later decide to change course, and are over 60, you will be no longer be eligible for the loan. There is no upper age limit for the tuition fee loan.
  • Where you normally live: In general, you should be eligible if you normally live in Scotland (i.e. not moving there for study). If you moved to Scotland for an undergraduate degree, you should apply to your 'home' nation's funding body – unless you remained in Scotland to work after your course. Equally if you are from Scotland and studied a degree elsewhere in the UK, you are still considered to be 'ordinarily resident' in Scotland.
  • How long you've lived in the UK: You must have lived in the UK for three years and be resident in Scotland on the 'relevant date' for your course (usually 1st August or 1st January). This could be as a UK or EU national or someone with 'settled status' (i.e. no restriction on how long you can stay). Exceptions include asylum seekers.
  • Your previous qualifications: You are still eligible for a loan even if you already have an equivalent or higher qualification up to a PhD, so long as you didn't receive UK or EU funding. If you did receive funding, you are unlikely to get a postgraduate loan unless you had extenuating circumstances.

If you have any question about your eligibility, it is worth checking with your nation's student finance body. Contact details are at the foot of this page.

Is your course eligible for postgraduate funding?

Your course must also meet the following criteria (for postgraduate or master's courses starting 2019–20):

  • Provider: It must be a course provided by a Scottish university or higher education institution. If a course is unavailable in Scotland, a programme at another UK university may be eligible so long as it is full-time.
  • What type of course is eligible? It can be a taught or research-based course. Postgraduate diplomas and full master's degrees – such as an MSc, MRes, MPhil, MLitt or MBA – are eligible, provided the course is rated no lower than Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) level 11.
  • What type of course isn't eligible? Courses that are not eligible include research master's degrees that are integrated into a doctoral course. If your course is eligible for undergraduate funding (this includes a number of postgraduate teaching courses), then you cannot apply for a postgraduate loan. Graduate-entry pre-registration nursing courses may be eligible for the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary. If you're not sure whether your course falls into this category, check with the provider.
  • How about an 'Intercalated' master's? You may be eligible for support if you are taking a year out of a degree such as medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine to do a postgraduate course. Please check with your university or SAAS for details.
  • Distance learning? Courses cannot be exclusively online or by distance learning. A minimum amount of 'contact time' or teaching is required between the student and teaching staff at the university.
  • Any limit on the course length? It can be a full- or part-time course. Postgraduate diplomas can be no longer than one year full-time, and master's courses no longer than two years full-time. Part-time courses should take no longer than twice the duration of the equivalent full-time course. If there is no full-time equivalent, please contact SAAS for guidance.

You also won't be eligible if you get other 'public' money while studying your course. If you are studying a postgraduate course in social work, you should seek funding from the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

What about EU or international students?

EU-resident students or their family members may be eligible for postgraduate loans in Scotland, but only for the tuition fee loan. You must have lived in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for at least three years before starting your course, and study in Scotland, living there on the first day of your course. Brexit is not set to have any immediate impact on funding; Scotland has confirmed that EU students starting a degree in 2020–21 will remain eligible.

If you’re from outside the EU, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for a postgraduate loan unless you have the right to permanently reside in the UK (e.g. having refugee status). There are also some exceptions for EEA migrant workers, Swiss or Turkish applicants. However there are often scholarships and bursaries for international students studying at postgraduate level, so check what your university has on offer.

If you are unsure whether you are considered a UK, EU or International student, please check with the relevant student finance body. Details for the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) are at the foot of this page.


Calton Hill , Edinburgh , Scotland

How do you get postgraduate funding in Scotland?

Apply online to SAAS, the Student Awards Agency Scotland, anytime from 1st April until the closing date of 31st March. 

You will need to apply for a tuition fee loan for each year of your course; you need only apply once for the living costs loan. Apply as soon as possible in order to receive the funding in time.

EU students may need to provide a copy of a valid passport or their identity card. If EU students previously received an undergraduate tuition fee loan from Scotland, this will not be required.

Tuition fees are paid directly to the university; living costs are paid to you. If your course lasts longer than one year, the loan you receive will be paid pro-rata, with the amount split according to the number of years of study. 

Number of years of study

Full-time or part-time

What is the maximum amount I can get per year?



£10,000 (£5,500 fees plus £4,500 living costs)



£5,000 (£2,750 fees plus £2,250 living costs)


£2,750 fees



£1,883 fees



£1,375 fees

What are the loan repayments like?

Repayments for Scottish postgraduate loans follow the same system as Scotland's undergraduate loans (Plan 1). If you already have a Scottish undergraduate loan, the two debts will be combined and paid off via one payment each month.

The amount you need to pay back each month is determined by your income. You will repay 9% of all income over £18,935. In Scotland this threshold is set to rise to £25,000 by April 2021. Interest is charged on the loan in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI); since December 2018 this has been 1.75% but this may change.

You are eligible for your first repayment in the April after you graduate from your course, but only once you are above the income threshold. You will still need to repay any borrowed money even if you choose not to complete a course. Note, if you withdraw from your studies in the first four months you'll have to pay the tuition fees yourself. The balance of the loan will be cancelled 30 years after it becomes liable for repayment.

Next steps for postgraduate study…

Visit the Student Awards Agency Scotland to find out more or apply for postgraduate funding in Scotland.

You'll need to either log in with your previous details if you've had a student loan before, or register to create an account.

Use our Course Chooser to find postgraduate courses of interest to you, or see how each university rates at undergraduate level in our Subject Tables. 

For a guide to postgraduate tuition fees charged by each UK university, see the individual course information page, found via our course chooser